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Does Heating Oil Ever “Go Bad”?

Why It’s Smart to Fill Up at the Beginning & End of the Winter Season!

lifespan of fuel oil maineWith the long, cold winters that Southern Maine typically endures, you may end up getting a heating oil delivery late in the season to get you through those first weeks of “spring”—but not go through your whole tank. Of course, we’re often still using heat long after our neighbors to the south. But what about that oil left in your tank when our beautiful Maine summer season finally arrives? Can it spoil, or “go bad”?

The short answer is not likely. Heating oil should remain in perfect, usable condition for approximately 18 to 24 months. But if you find yourself with less than half a tank at the end of the winter, here are three reasons it’s still a smart move to fill up or top-off.

  1. Water condensation is likely to build up on the interior walls of a mostly-empty steel heating oil tank. That can fuel bacteria growth within your tank—and eventually within your fuel—and over time, that bacteria can turn your heating oil into a thick sludge that will jam your fuel lines and potentially cause heating equipment breakdowns.
  2. Because water is heavier than oil, the condensation will eventually sink to the bottom of your oil tank, where it will cause corrosion or possibly even a tank failure in the worst-case scenario. The best way to prevent condensation from forming is to keep your oil tank at least half full during the offseason.
  3. Filling your tank by getting a heating oil delivery in the spring can save you some money, since heating oil prices are often at their lowest when demand for fuel is minimal!

Odor is a Strong Indicator

Of course, there are other factors that can affect your heating oil. If your oil storage tank is very old, it may already be corroded inside. The oil can be contaminated by rust, water, dirt and debris, all of which can cause problems.

Not sure if your heating oil is bad? You should be able to tell by the smell. If bacteria have managed to grow in your tank and caused sludge to form, then this sludge should create a distinctly foul odor. Simply remove the fill cap from the top of your heating oil tank to determine if the oil smells. And of course, you can always call us if you aren’t 100% sure.

No matter when you need a fill-up, you can trust PitStop Propane and Fuels to be there for you. Get in touch with us today and begin enjoying the benefits of being a PitStop customer!